Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 1 of Phase 1

Phase 1 of our Back to Basics work: lots of walking. Vigorous walking, lots of circles and serpentines etcetera, but walking nonetheless.

I did not set up the video camera, because there was four other riders in the arena, and I wasn't sure if they would appreciate being videotaped. Awkward....

It actually went very well today. She was stepping very much under herself and going at a very brisk walk (we just walked the entire time, but she was breathing a bit harder than she would be at rest, so it was a constant vigorous walk) and I noticed her back was rounded and her neck was up (it was out straight and made a nice gentle arch with the occasional stretch, but the poll was the highest point). I was able to pick the reins up, but much further and we lost the swing in her back, though she did have one or two "aha!" moments where she reached for the bit for two or three steps haha! But really she just inverted her neck when I went beyond picking up 2 inches of rein, so we went back to where we were and just kept trying.

Almost solely going to the right she would exaggerate some of the curves on a circle or serpentine and her outside shoulder would pop out, so I tried counterflexation (hard concept for both of us to grasp, because I just end up almost telling her to side pass, and she is like "But, you want to go RIGHT, right? So that means I curve right, right?" bless her) but our iffy counterflex did work most of the time!

Also on a loose rein, I worked on controlling her pace with my seat movement, and it was a bit iffy at first, but about halfway through the ride, she was nailing shortening and extending her pace, and the halting soon followed. They weren't always square, but she halted without me having to tug at the reins. I had to add a verbal "whoa" most of the time, to reinforce that when I stopped the movement in my seat for longer than usual, I meant "whoa", because that's what she responds to on the longe line, and it clicked very quickly.

I think I don't need to keep pushing her the entire ride. I really overused my seat and legs most of time, so that might've been why when I picked up the reins she had kind of become deaf to all that "chatter" I had been producing the entire ride. I don't really know... it's just what I have read before.

Our ride time was about an hour and 20 minutes, going at a brisk working walk on a loose rein the entire time. We had a lot of really good moments!

Now, I'm out to the barn again.... because I can :)


  1. Walking = good! I've found the walk very helpful for teaching horses to stretch down and seek the contact. I've read that overschooling the walk is a bad idea and will ruin the walk, but I think that only applies to "pulled together" walk work. If you let the horse have a longer, natural frame and focus on forward movement and a swinging back, walk work can only help your trot and canter work.

    Great idea to work on forward and back in the walk and halting off your seat. And yes, you do need to watch that you're not always pushing with your seat and leg. Do a tap with your whip or leg if you need to, if that helps her understand that she needs to keep going in the pace. I'm guilty of overdoing it sometimes too. It takes time to wean yourself and your horse off of that, so don't worry too much about it.

    I went back and read your last comment. Little slopes will do, you don't necessarily need a huge hill to get the benefits of hill work. Sometimes I wish the yard where I work Sofie wasn't quite so hilly all over the place. It's hard when she has a flare-up. It's mostly just something different to try so she has to work a little harder and use herself a little. And I must say that it means a lot to me that you were inspired by my work with Sofie. She's going through a rough patch physically right now, so I really, really appreciate your kind words.

  2. Good thing I have A) lost my whip (left on the couch in the barn and it is forever lost) and B) Greta takes that whip way too seriously. She moves off my leg quite nicely anyway. She's definitely very forward haha.

    The slope going up the driveway, which is quite long, seems to be a good workout for her, as it gradually inclines so it can be a bit of strain after a while. Once she feels more comfortable going through it at a walk (there are still some scary parts we need to vanquish) I'll look at trotting up it.

    And no prob on the last comment. Sofie is an awesome little mare. You have done so much for her.


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